Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women. Sadly, almost every woman we know has been, or knows someone, who has been affected by it. We recently had the honor of chatting with Kristen Carbone about how breast cancer has shaped her identity and career. Kristen is the Founder of Brilliantly, a mission driven company dedicated to improving women’s lives after an experience with breast cancer.
Q: Kristen, we're so excited to introduce our community to you, and to the incredible work you are doing right now building Brilliantly. Please, tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to get to this point.
A: I am committed to making the lives of the people around me more comfortable, fulfilling and beautiful. After a decade-long career working in curatorial departments in Museums across New York and New England I founded Brilliantly, a platform dedicated to meeting the long term, quality of life issues faced by women who’ve had an experience with breast cancer.
Brilliantly started with trying to solve a problem for myself. My mother Lisa died from metastatic breast cancer at age 49, and after years of expensive and emotionally taxing screenings, finding a lump, and learning more about my potential hereditary risks, I had a preventative mastectomy and reconstruction in 2013. In the years following, I faced a profound shift in my identity and connection with my body. One of the things that really bothered me was feeling constantly cold. Turned out, I wasn’t the only one dealing with this discomfort—a relatively common result of implant reconstruction. After countless failed attempts to jerry-rig a quick fix, I set my mind on designing a sustainable solution to help women like myself feel physically better. Through conversations with other women, I also recognized that the opportunity to help women feel better was much bigger.
Q: We'd love to hear more about your mission at Brilliantly.
A: Brilliantly helps women with the transition from confronting breast cancer to embracing life through innovative products, thoughtful content, and relevant services. So far we’ve started a portrait project, released a corrective exercise video series, hosted events, and featured interviews and blog posts on our online journal.
Our flagship product, Brilliantly Warm, is an app-controlled warming wearable for the many women who experience a constant and distracting feeling of coldness from their breast implant reconstruction, is through the user testing phase and is launching later this year.
Q: This year has been so challenging for all of us. What do you think your biggest take-away or "life lesson" from 2020 will be?
A: I am a firm believer in the principle of “it takes a village.” This applies to parenting but also to building a business. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a supportive community of people bolstering me along the way and 2020 has proven that there are a multitude of ways people can “show up” for each other. I will never take hugs or human contact for granted ever again.
Also, I learned that I really love the extra time at home with my kids.
Q: When it comes to wellness, what has your Attn: right now?
A: I am working hard to create boundaries for work now that all of it happens at home. Shutting off the computer and the phone to spend focused time with the people I love most is absolutely critical for my overall wellness.
Q: And lastly, this one’s just for fun, because who couldn’t use a little levity right now. What's your go-to emoji when texting?
A: My go-to emoji is the kissy face with a heart. I love sending a little virtual love. 😘
Thanks so much for chatting with us, Kristen, and for the incredible work that you do.